China and Serbia: a friendship as strong as steel
The Chinese railway company Trans Eurasia and Metrans have launched a rail freight service connecting Wuhan, in China with Pančevo, in Serbia. The transit time for the journey is 18 days.
Attempts at creating a regular rail freight service between China and Serbia have been made already two years ago, but until now has resulted in customised journeys only. The Wuhan-Pančevo service is the fifth trip connecting Serbia to China since 2020, according to Wanxu Dong, managing director at Trans Eurasia.
Trans Eurasia and Metrans
Trans Eurasia is handling the route between Wuhan and the Malaszewice Terminal. The route goes through Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus before reaching Poland.
Metrans successfully operated the connection from the Metrans Terminal in Malaszewice, Poland, to the Serbian dry port terminal in Pančevo. Containers arrived in Poland from Wuhan, China, and then traveled through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary, to finally reach Serbia. The containers bound for Serbia are loaded with construction machinery parts in China.
What about Eastbound trains?
There is no official schedule for future trips. The matter gets slightly more complicated when it comes to trains going from Serbia back to China. In fact, the first eastbound train from Serbia to China left on 22 June 2020 from Belgrade. Three eastbound trains were run last year, while there were none for this year.
Martin Koubek, director of Silk Road at Metrans, pointed out that it would be vital to find enough return cargo to fill eastbound trains. Discussions with loading companies are still taking place.
China and Serbia’s solid relationship
This project confirms the solid relationship between China and Serbia. A few days ago, Serbian minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin claimed the two countries have a solid friendship in a letter to Chinese Minister of the Interior Wang Xiaohong. Rail plays an important part in this friendship.
Another example is the construction of the railway line connecting Serbia and Hungary. The project, which started last March and is expected to be complete by the end of the year is funded by China as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Once complete, westbound cargo could find its way to Europe through the Adriatic ports, with Serbia being an important transit country.